I prefer to write in pencil – something about the way it slides across the paper, I suppose. I love to write with a fountain pen too. It forces me to write slowly, thoughtfully. I have a beautiful small, red Shaeffer pen that was given to me years ago. Trouble is, I get it out so rarely that the ink has usually dried up and I have to clean it up and locate the ink bottle before I start.
I have a thing about French notebooks, the ones with a complicated grid instead of lines. Whenever I go to France I buy myself a new bundle of notebooks. I find that the grid makes it easy to organise my thoughts clearly because I can arrange what I’m putting on the page in so many different ways.
I use a green pen for editing. It’s not as scary as a red one!
I’ve just bought myself a couple of packs of file cards which I’m planning to use to plot my next book. Up to now I’ve always simply written notes on paper or on the computer, but I’ve been reading about different plotting systems and think it’s time to give file cards a go.
I’ve been a writer and editor of nonfiction for children for 25 years but only started to write fiction about five years ago. I might never have finished my first novel, but I was spurred on by having builders in the house when I was between jobs – I felt I just had to look busy! Since then, I’ve self-published three YA novels, What they don’t tell you about love in the movies, Being the English Girl and Gingerbread & Cupcake and written a handful more which need some hard work and tlc to knock them into shape. These first three novels are realistic dramas intended to make the reader go, ‘Yes, that’s exactly what it’s like!’ but I’m straying further into fantasy / magic / science fiction with my more recent work, though family and friendship bonds remain a central theme.
I live in the countryside in southwest Scotland and yearn for the busyness of cities until I’m actually in one, when I long to get back to green hills and quiet roads. In my spare time, I’m the editor of Words & Pictures, the online magazine of the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators in the UK.
You can find Words & Pictures at www.wordsandpics.org